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TRENTON, NJ - The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund Commission (CICRFC) announced today during its annual meeting that it has approved over $7.7 million in grants this fiscal year to 378 New Jersey families struggling to pay uncovered medical expenses for their children.  During difficult economic times, the Fund is an essential safety net to many struggling New Jersey families.
 
 
The CICRF this year has provided assistance to more families than any other time in its history.
“The Relief Fund serves as a lifeline for these struggling parents,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner, Jennifer Velez. “These grants allow them to focus on what’s really important and to resume their lives faster, without burdensome debt threatening to disrupt their lives even more.”
New Jersey’s businesses pay $1.50 per employee each year to support the Fund. Last December, business leaders participated in a holiday event with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and CICRF at the State House. It was the first occasion since the Fund’s creation that business leaders had an opportunity to see first-hand the value of their contributions.
Janice Prontnicki, MD, Commission Chairperson and public member, noted that since 1989, the Commission has approved grants totaling over $141 million for over 6,000 families. “The families have their own unique stories to tell but are not unlike most New Jersey families who work hard to pay their bills. Yet when faced with the daunting challenge of caring for a child who is ill and dealing with mounting medical bills, daily life can be overwhelming.” Prontnicki said.
Several families who have benefited from the Fund and now serve as volunteers on the CICRFC Family Advisory Committee also attended the meeting. “I would like to personally thank those families here today who continue to extend themselves despite their own difficult circumstances. Your efforts to assist other families have helped make the program successful and rewarding,” said Claudia Marchese, Executive Director of CICRFC.
Families of any income may qualify for financial help if a child’s unreimbursed medical and related expenses exceed 10 percent of the family’s annual income up to $100,000, plus 15 percent of any income over $100,000. The Fund does not restrict coverage to a specific diagnosis or condition and covers hospital and physician bills, medications, disposable medical goods, medical equipment, medically related home and vehicle modifications, transportation and home care costs.
Children 21 years or younger are eligible, and families must be State residents. Expenses must have been incurred during a previous 12-month period. The program is funded through an annual surcharge on employers of $1.50 per employee.
“We define ‘catastrophic’ in terms of the economic impact a child’s illness has on the family,” said Marchese. “A family may have health insurance, but coverage can be inadequate when a child has a serious illness or injury. The Fund can help families avoid financial crisis and return to the routine responsibilities of life.”
While legislation creating the Fund protects the anonymity of families who have received grant awards, several families attended the annual meeting to share their experience as a way of encouraging other families in need to apply for assistance. (See family profiles below.)
For more information regarding the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, call Claudia L. Marchese, Executive Director, at 609-292-0600 or the Family Information Line, 1-800-335-FUND. Also, visit the Fund website at www.njcatastrophicfund.org
Families in Attendance on June 27, 2012
David and Dana Mitchell of Waretown, Ocean County
were insured, but still had significant expenses related to the care of their three year old son, Ashton. Ashton is diagnosed with encephalopathy, a syndrome of global brain dysfunction and an intellectual disability. He is also diagnosed with epilepsy, and as a result experiences recurrent seizures. The family received over $8,500 for assistance with physician and pharmacy expenses in addition to transportation related costs.
Richard and Susan Kryhoski of Saddle Brook, Bergen County had medical insurance when their two year old twins Zoe and Zachary were born prematurely. Both child required extensive care and treatment at the neonatal intensive care unit. The family received over $16,800 to assist with the cost of physician expenses, durable medical equipment, and pharmacy expenses that were not fully covered by their insurance.
Charles and Tabitha Maughan of Brownsmills, Burlington County were insured through their employer when their son Cameron was born with a congenital heart condition. CICRFC awarded the family over $5,600 to assist with physician and hospital expenses that were not fully covered through their insurance.
Thomas and Eileen McGourn of Turnersville, Gloucester County are the parents of Moira, age 12 and John age 14, who are both diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and anxiety disorders. They received awards totaling over $7,700 to assist with physician, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and hospital expenses that were not fully covered by insurance.
Roseann Warman of Freehold in Monmouth County had medical insurance for her 20 year old daughter, Alyssa, but when she experienced severe symptoms due to a diagnosis of Lyme Disease, the family incurred overwhelming expenses for hospital care, specialty physician services, pharmacy expenses, durable medical equipment and physical therapy costs that exceeded their ability to pay. The family received an award of $29,000 to relieve them of their medically related debt.
Thomas and Ashley Green of Florence, Burlington County were able to receive assistance through CICRFC for outstanding medical bills that they were struggling to pay for their 6 year old daughter Peyton. The family had medical insurance, but when Peyton was diagnosed with a blood disorder, she required hospital and physician services that were not completely covered. The family received an award of almost $4,000.
Prasad and Aparna Surampudi of Hillsborough, Somerset County have received assistance through CICRFC during the past two years. Their 17 year old son Tayjus is diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disorder. He has used a wheelchair for mobility for the past several years and the family needed to make several accessibility modifications to their home to meet his needs. The family also purchased a modified vehicle, to provide their son with safe, reliable transportation. The Commission awarded the family $71,000 during the previous fiscal year and $31,000 during the current fiscal year.
Mrs. Jennifer Boyle of North Caldwell, Essex County previously received assistance through CICRFC for her son, Sean who is diagnosed with a non-progressive muscular condition that impacts his mobility. Although the family has health insurance, they had uncovered medical expenses for their son. CICRFC was able to assist the Boyle family with transportation expenses, physician, pharmacy, home health care and durable medical equipment. They received an award that totaled over $22,000.





 
 
 
 
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